While Tuesday’s are usually Top 10 Tuesday days, I really didn’t like the prompt for this week (Book Quotes) so I thought I’d bring you something a little bit different. This is my first ever Let’s Discuss… type post and it’s about something that has really been bugging me for a good few months now – whether book crates are worth buying?
I’ve been around the book blogosphere for almost a year and it’s almost impossible to escape the book crate posts that crop up every month where fellow book bloggers share their unboxing’s and joyfully (or tearfully) share what they got in their book crates that month. Despite all of the hype around them, I have never really paid attention to book crates until recently. At first, I didn’t have any interest in them and wasn’t overly impressed by the contents of some of the crates I did see people sharing, but after seeing monthly posts I began to feel a little bit left out that I wasn’t part of this community event so I decided to do a little bit of research into whether it would be worth buying one.
Below I want to share some of my thoughts about book crates and would love to hear from you all on what you think about book crates too!
1. The Surprise
Probably one of the most exciting aspects of book crates is the surprise of not knowing what you’re going to get in your box. Although the monthly theme gives you an idea, you’re never sure what might be included. Whilst I really like the idea of getting a complete surprise each month, there’s also a big, anxious part of me that would worry that I wouldn’t like the book and/or other contents. If so, that would just lead to me getting really upset and feeling as though I’ve wasted my money so something that relies on surprises is always going to be a risk for me!
One solution to this problem is to try to buy the box after the fact. Aside from subscribing or purchasing a single box, you can also buy past boxes if there are still some available through the book crate’s website. This makes it much easier as you can see exactly what’s included but is also a risk as boxes aren’t always available after their initial release!
2. Exclusive Hardbacks
Another really exciting aspect of book crates is the new release hardbacks which usually have exclusive covers for the book crate and are usually signed too! I can only imagine how amazing it would be to open up your crate to find an exclusive, signed new release which you can delve straight into and display on your shelves knowing that only other subscribers of that book crate will have the same copy as you!
The only drawbacks to this are when I’ve seen people received a copy of a new release that they had pre-ordered, so end up with two copies, or receive a book that they don’t like!
3. Featured Artwork
I love that book crates feature work by artists in their boxes! I’m a big fan of collecting fandom related and/or pretty art postcards to display on my walls or my bookshelves. They also make really nice accessories for people who bookstagram. Supporting artists is always great so this is something I really like about book crates.
4. Themed Goodies
Ahhh… themed goodies. One of two things that I’m most torn on. In theory, themed goodies are great. I for one think you can never have too many bookmarks or candles and have seen some other really lovely accessories included in book boxes such as letters from authors. However, I always have two concerns about themed goodies:
- Does the amount of themed goodies included level out the cost of the boxes?
- The inclusion of jewelry and makeup.
In the first instance, I’ve seen some book boxes that have loads of stuff included which seem really high quality, enjoyable and well-worth the money. But I have also seen some boxes released that barely seem to have anything included in them. Looking through some of the more well-known book crate websites, it’s clear that each box massively varies in terms of how much is included. While some provide 4-6 items in their boxes, others only include 2-3. If I were to receive a box that only had 2-3 little bits in it, I’m not sure if I would feel that the expense was worth it?
Another big concern for me is the inclusion of things like jewelry and make-up in these boxes. I’ve noticed since starting my blog that there are definitely much more female identifies bloggers than there are male or non-binary bloggers and I think that the marketization of these boxes really reflects that. However, there are lots of people, regardless of gender, who don’t like jewelry or makeup. As a transmasculine person who has a lot of bad memories associated with both of those things, receiving them in my box would make me feel super uncomfortable (I can’t even touch jewelry). I would have to get my partner to throw it away or find someone else to give it to, which would make me feel like I couldn’t enjoy the box as much.
The single most important factor for me though is the price of book crates. I came across a March box that I was really tempted to buy but when I worked out the cost of how much it would be for me, an international book blogger, it came to an extortionate amount. This is obviously a really complex and tricky area to consider because the people who put the crates together, authors, artists, and creators deserve to be well-paid for the things that they produce but, in my experience, this is often excluding poor and international book bloggers more and more. For the most popular book crates I worked out the following amounts for one box from a variety of producers:
OwlCrate = $30 plus $20 shipping = $50 or £36.03
LitJoy = $30 plus $13 shipping = $43 or £30.98
Unicorn Crate = $36.95 plus $30 shipping = $66.95 or £48.25
The Bookie Box = $33.99 plus $25 shipping = $58.99 or £42.51
There is no way that I would able to afford to buy any of these boxes. If I was lucky, I might be able to buy a LitJoy box as a super rare treat for myself but it’s definitely not something I could afford very often and pigs would fly before I would be able to pay upwards of £40 for a book box! Unfortunately, as someone who is both poor and an international blogger, the likelihood of me ever getting my hands on a book crate is very low unless someone were to gift me one or I got one in the sale.
There has been one book box that I’ve found which is UK based which seems really reasonably priced which is FairyLoot which is £26 plus £3.60 shipping. This is a lot easier for those based in the UK to afford, however for there are many who would struggle to afford £30 too.
This makes me feel actually quite sad as there are a lot of things that international book bloggers are having to miss out on simply because we don’t live in America. Fewer books to request on our country-specific Netgalley’s, giveaways, US only pre-order swag, lovely hand-made merch from Etsy, you name it and a lot of us can’t have it because of our location and/or economic status which is really, really frustrating. A lot of the merch included in book boxes is often also used in bookstagram posts meaning that we also lose out by now being able to decorate our pictures in the same way as others which is something that has begun to bother me when using Instagram.
If the shipping weren’t so expensive on book crates, I might feel that they were more worth the expense especially if you are only buying them every so often rather than a monthly subscription. Having watched a bunch of unboxing’s there are many book bloggers who clearly love book boxes and feel like they are worth the money a#so I would love to hear from you all about your experiences with them.